President/CEO, Food Gatherers
Eileen Spring is first generation American and grew up
working along side her parents in various restaurants in Yonkers and upstate
NY. She was among the first in her family to complete college, graduating from
Hofstra University and attaining her masters degree from the American Culture
Program at University of Michigan.
Her position as president and CEO of Food Gatherers
combines her background in the restaurant business with her passion for
community activism. When Eileen started at Food Gatherers, the non-profit
was operating out of an old abandoned slaughterhouse complete with meat hooks
hanging from the ceiling. Under her leadership she has overseen the development
of two capital campaigns-one for a community kitchen inside the Robert J
Delonis Center and in 2003 a new distribution center for Food Gatherers. Under
her leadership Food Gatherers has grown from a small grassroots organization
distributing less than 1/2 a million pounds of food to the primary distributor
of food and coordinator of grassroots hunger efforts in the county.
Food Gatherers augments the traditional the food rescue
and food bank program with innovative programing and collaboration that
engages more than 6,000 different volunteers and 160 non profit partners every
year to not merely alleviate hunger but help address the root causes.
As a founding member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance,
Food Gatherers opened the door for the development of Avalon Housing's Carrot
Way Ann Arbor Apartments, the first newly constructed handicap accessible low
income housing in several decades. In addition to providing hot meals for those
in need, the Community Kitchen offers a culinary job training program for
homeless youth. Recently, Food Gatherers has launched numerous community
growing initiatives in order to increase low income people's access to
fresh fruits and vegetables. Spring has been active on the local FEMA board,
the Washtenaw Housing Alliance and the board of the Food Bank Council of
Michigan and the national network of food banks, Feeding America.